Keynote host

Lee Bey

You haven’t seen Chicago until you’ve looked at it through the eyes of Lee Bey, a photographer, author, lecturer, and architecture critic. As our keynote host, Lee will open each keynote with a rich narrative about the ability of Chicago’s architecture to drive new thinking.

Portrait of Lee Bey on a collage of geometric shapes


Lee Bey is the architecture critic for the Chicago Sun-Times, returning to the post in 2022 after 21 years. He is also a member of the Sun-Times editorial board, where he writes editorials on city governance, neighborhood development, politics, and urban planning.

He is the author of the much-praised book Southern Exposure: The Overlooked Architecture of Chicago’s South Side (Northwestern University Press, 2019), the first book devoted to the South Side’s rich and unfairly ignored architectural heritage. The acclaimed book showcases his architectural photography and social commentary.

Lee’s photography of the built environment has appeared in magazines and periodicals such as the New York Times, Architectural Digest, Chicago Architect, Architect, and CITE, and international design publications such as Bauwelt and Modulør.

He is also an in-demand speaker and media commentator on architecture, urban planning, Chicago history, and late 20th century Black history and culture.

Lee is an adjunct professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology College of Architecture. He was previously the director of media and government affairs for the Chicago office of SOM, the executive director of Chicago Central Area Committee, and the deputy chief of staff for architecture and urban planning for Chicago mayor Richard M. Daley.

Lee is the recipient of the 2021 Julius Shulman Institute Excellence in Photography Award and the 2019 Distinguished Service Award by AIA Chicago. He lives in Chicago’s historic Pullman community.